New York Mets star Francisco Lindor is all-in on the World Baseball Classic and disagrees with the stance that Major League Baseball players should avoid the event because of the risk of injury.
Lindor addressed a wide range of WBC-related topics with reporters Monday night -- five days after teammate Edwin Diaz suffered a season-ending knee injury while celebrating a victory by Puerto Rico.
The injuries to Diaz and Houston Astros star Jose Altuve have reignited the debate over MLB players participating in the WBC. Although he said Diaz's injury "broke my heart," Lindor told reporters he "100 percent" plans to play for Puerto Rico again in the next WBC and said "it's a blessing and an honor and a privilege" to represent his country.
"We all care for each other and no one wants to get hurt," Lindor said. "But we all love our countries and want to represent our countries. ... We have an opportunity to represent our countries and learn from our peers. It's amazing."
Lindor said he is "super proud to be a New York Met" but also "super proud to be a Puerto Rican," and emphasized that MLB players' "participation [in the WBC] should still be there" in future years. The four-time All-Star shortstop declined to answer whether he would rather win a World Series or a WBC title.
"I'm not going to answer that question," he said. "It's just not fair. It's not a fair question because I want to win two, three, four World Series and two, three, four WBCs. I've lost both and it is not a good feeling."
With Lindor and his Puerto Rico teammates looking on, Diaz was carried off the field in tears Wednesday night with what was diagnosed as a torn patellar tendon. After closing out Puerto Rico's victory over the Dominican Republic, the All-Star closer's knee appeared to buckle during the postgame celebration and he collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain as his teammates tearfully watched.
"It was heartbreaking," Lindor said Monday. "I never knew I loved Edwin so much until I couldn't stop crying. And that's when I realized I loved Edwin a lot.
"It's one of those moments that you wish you could go back and kind of do it in slow motion that way no one goes through that. It broke my heart. It did not feel good. Edwin kind of calmed the team a little bit. He talked to us after the game. It was a very, very sad clubhouse."
Altuve suffered a fractured right thumb three nights later when he was hit by a pitch while playing for Venezuela. The Astros announced Sunday that the former American League MVP needed surgery and will be out indefinitely.
"These are injuries that none of us want -- none of us, none of us," Lindor said. "And they hurt, they suck, they feel terrible. I can understand everyone's emotions. Believe me, I have those emotions too. ... No one wants to get hurt. But we all love our countries and want to represent our countries."
Lindor also said he feels in better shape physically after playing in the WBC and noted that he's a better player after mingling with and competing against other stars in the tournament, calling the experience "unmatched."
As for the Mets, who now must navigate the season without their $102 million closer, Lindor said he expects the team to rally without Diaz.
"We have to focus on what we have," he said. "We have a really good team. A lot of guys are resilient.
"Are we going to miss Edwin? One hundred percent we are. He's a huge part of our team. I think he's the best closer in the game. But we're all professional. We all have a job to do. We gotta go out there and take care of business."